• "Made in the Shade"
    A package on Southern writers: profiles, interviews and an 11-state directory of writers you may never have heard of but are worth your time. Appeared in Creative Loafing chain.
  • "Mass Appeal"
    A day-in-the-life profile of a telegenic parish priest in Miami. Published in Catholic Digest, reprinted in the St. Petersburg Times
  • "The Liberation of Tam Minh Pham"
    How the first West Point graduate from South Vietnam disappears after the fall of Saigon, only to be rescued by his classmates two decades later. A cover story in The Washington Post Magazine


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Mark Hamilton


At least once a semester I try to get my students jazzed about listening to good songwriters (Steve Earle is one of my favourite examples) for their ability to frame a novel -- or at least a longish feature story -- in three and a half minutes and for their use of metaphor to paint visual pictures (like Earle describing a road as "straighter than a preacher and longer than a memory").


Kristin Ohlson

I love that song. I also think Bruce Springsteen tells great, great stories. Not just in the iconic songs like Thunder Road, but in some of the less-known ones, too. And the stories are so distinctly American, too-- I often wonder if Europeans and others scratch their heads at this thing he has about cars.

Rebecca Dube

I too love Bruce Springsteen for narrative inspiration.
I got a fabulous book when I started at AP (a gift from a friend attempting to console me about my new length limits) called "The World's Shortest Stories" -- I highly recommend it. Here's my favourite, by Jeffrey Whitmore (and at 53 words, I hope it's not too long to reproduce here):
Bedtime Story
"Careful, honey, it's loaded," he said, re-entering the bedroom.
Her back rested against the headboard. "This for your wife?"
"No, too chancy. I'm hiring a professional."
"How about me?"
He smirked. "Cute. But who'd be dumb enough to hire a lady hit man?"
She wet her lips, sighting along the barrel.
"Your wife."


short shorts are big in fiction now, Rebecca. This is a great example. Thanks,


I love this song. It's an simple and yet emotional approach to the live of women in their thirties, forties, and the challenges we're facing. Every day. Amazing writing, wonderful music. I'm glad you appreciate it as much as I do.
Lili (a Panamanian woman of 33)


I love this song. It's a simple yet emotional approach to the life of women in their thirties, forties, and the challenges we're facing. Every day. Amazing writing, wonderful music. I'm glad you appreciate it as much as I do.
Lili (a Panamanian woman of 33)

David Dawson


I ran across this post and felt compelled to comment. Bonnie Raitt is terrific, and Nick of Time is one of her best -- a whole world in three verses and a chorus, with some very nice slide guitar in the bargain.

An amazing storyteller in song is Richard Thompson, a British singer/songwriter who was once a member of Fairport Convention. His song "Dimming of the Day" has been widely covered, including a fine version by Bonnie Raitt on her "Longing in Their Hearts" album. Thompson finer songs include "Vincent Black Shadow" and "Bees Wing," but just about all of them do what you're describing here: build a story in three or four minutes of very good music.


Thanks, David. I'll have to check it out. I appreciate the read and the tip.


Of course, what would the evocative lyrical narrative be without the contributions of the great Leonard Cohen?


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